Recently I asked a loved one why he did not wear his hearing aid. Though this a regular occurrence, it felt unnecessary to shout while he strained and cupped his ear. He explained that he must change the battery every two days, and that it is a nuisance, so he doesn't wear it.
I reminded him that he must turn the hearing aid off at night to conserve battery life. He frowned. I asked if there was another reason why he didn't wear the hearing aid.
"I don't want to hear everything," he said.
I wondered how many wonderful conversations he missed, and how many kind or encouraging words were not said by others because of the need to shout into the echo-land of the beautiful vaulted ceiling.
"You don't want to hear everything?" I asked.
"Nope. Besides, I can hear you all right."
"I am shouting."
Our conversation caused me to evaluate my own impulse to shut down whole experiences because I have a problem with one detail. God knows that I have done this.
I hesitated starting this blog because that puts something of me out there, risking rejection. To date, scant few know about my blog, but that will change when I am ready.
When I first became a court reporter, I was told that one of the benefits of freelancing was that one did not listen to or decipher workplace conflicts. After all, freelance court reporters work alone. I did not plan that, but thought perhaps it would prove to be a perk.
After sufficient loneliness while experiencing professional stress, I discovered that solitude was not better. In fact it was worse. I realized that conflict often creates the conditions that force me to grow, to learn the uncomfortable things that I'd rather avoid. For instance, I must speak up for myself or on behalf of somebody else when it's appropriate and grow and learn from my mistakes and from the mistakes of others.
There are days when the proverbial hearing aid needs to be unplugged, and perhaps when I am older I will want it unplugged permanently. I hope not. For now that may be the distinct purpose and joy of weekends and vacations!